Bill hasn't seen clear skies in weeks. The mountainous regions of California become drier than usual.
He paces his study, contemplating his newest edits and pulling off his reading glasses. Bill's hand rubs over the bridge of his nose. His arms folding together. He should sit back down and reopen his laptop, send out an message to the publisher, and…
The grandfather clock in the hall tolls midnight. Bill peers through the doorway, frowning. It sits at the far end, near the kitchen's entrance, like a white, statuesque shadow in the darkness. He never wanted the fucking thing, but Audra insisted. And she always insisted. Bill sighs out a low, gloomy noise, marching over to his opened study door, clasping onto its knob.
Several rapping knocks on the front door.
Bill halts, frowning again. Who the hell could that be? He wasn't expecting a delivery, and there's no landscaper who would do their business in the middle of a freezing, rainy night.
Neglecting the cameras hooked to his security system, he quietly walks over to the peep-hole, looking out for himself.
Bill's heart gallops so fast, abrupt in his chest.
"Mike?" he says awestruck, throwing open the main entrance's door.
"Hi, Bill," Mike announces, smiling, his hands digging into his olive green parka. An almost shy habit that Bill vividly remembers.
Bill laughs out Mike's name this time, throwing himself forward and bumping against Mike's chest, grasping his nape with soft, marveling intent as they hug. Wet droplets soak into Bill's ivory-colored crewneck. Mike's hair glistens under the porchlight.
It's been too long since Mike's last phone call.
He's finally left Derry, Bill realizes, feeling a stab of pride and brushing his mouth against the rain-damp parka.
"I didn't mean to startle you—"
They pull out of the hug, but not separating. One of Mike's hand relocate to Bill's side and Bill keeps his hold to Mike's nape.
"N-no! No. You didn't," Bill insists, wincing internally. He's stuttering again. It's been happening off and on since moving back. Bill's stutter rears back up when he's flustered or aggravated, but the speech therapy classes on the weekends help. Bill's even more grateful that Mike doesn't bring it up. "I thought y-yu-you were heading out to Florida?"
Mike's smile widens, exposing his teeth. That lovely and earnest farmboy smile.
"Changed my mind halfway into my flight plans."
Bill inhales loudly, glancing over him and dropping his hand. "You went out your way to see me?" he asks, flattered. Mike doesn't confirm or deny it, but does nod politely when Bill welcomes him inside the dimly lit and wood-paneled foyer.
"This is a beautiful home," Mike points out, staring up at the glass-plated ceiling and working off his boots.
"Audra hired a world-famous designer." Bill feels his temperament darken over. Took months and months to deal with the reservations and prices and lazy contractors. For nothing. "I'm selling it. Moving out to Arizona and getting a stucco-style place."
"It's better this way," Bill interrupts, running his thumb over his naked ring-finger. "She was unhappy. I think I w-wuh-was too."
Mike gives him a sympathetic arm-pat, clearing his throat. "Well, I just wanted to stop by before tracking down a Motel 6," he says. "Thanks for seeing me. We should get some lunch tomorrow. I'll let you get back to writing—"
"—you wanna stay a while?"
"I couldn't impose."
Bill's expression relaxes, his lips quirking up. "I want you to stay, Mikey," he declares. Mike grins, bashful and resisting an argument. "You can pick any of the rooms upstairs. There's a shower connecting to the master bedroom if you wanna use it."
Once Mike disappears up the ornate, spiraling staircase, Bill remains on the lowermost step before drifting over to the refrigerator, yanking open a shelf of chilled wine bottles. He pours himself a glass, downing half and returning to his study.
At first, Bill doesn't imagine he's gonna get much more writing done. Not with Mike here.
(Not with how anticipation and longing jetting through Bill's veins, flame-hot.)
They managed to survive Pennywise and kill IT after all—not that Bill wants to dwell.
But it turns out the call about Stanley's death had been a trick. One of the fucking clown's games manifesting.
Patricia Uris never answered Beverly. She was too absent-minded waiting for her husband to leave the emergency room after cutting his wrists. Stanley also survived. Eddie got air-lifted into another, much larger hospital in Maine, surviving his injuries and falling into a coma.
Richie hasn't left him since.
Ben and Beverly left him a voicemail from the Caribbean, gushing about their honeymoon and Richie's newest text on the group chat. Eddie woke up last week, drugged and yelling and exhausted, but his memory unscathed. Richie joked to them about getting denied his visitation rights yesterday. Something about getting too handsy with Eddie for the nurse's liking. It's good to know nothing's really changed.
A spurt of inspiration clouds Bill's mind further. He types away on his laptop, sipping on his wine and then finishing his chapter.
Bill checks his wristwatch.
An hour uninterrupted? By now, Audra would be rattling at his locked study-door, complaining about dinner or wanting a goodnight kiss. Sometimes… sometimes Bill came to the door.
He would ignore her occasionally.
Yell at her.
That's not the kind of husband Bill wanted to be. Audra deserved more than a man hanging onto his ghosts.
In the parlor, Bill spots Mike lounging on a velvet-lined chaise. He's reading one of Bill's novels with solemn intent, Mike's knuckles resting gently to his cheek. Wide awake. He's dressed in a clean, white henley that Bill knows he's seen before. Mike used to wear them all of the time. When they first met as kids.
Homeschool—that's the nickname Richie gave him.
Bill wanders closer, snorting softly in amusement. Mike smells like lavender handsoap. Stuff that Audra claimed was organic and kept lying around, but never used. Bill dumped the liquid pump-vials one of the more frequented guest-rooms.
"That one's got a bad ending."
Mike peers up over his opened page of THE GLOW, his forehead lining with wrinkles. "I actually like it," he informs Bill. "The narration doesn't mislead you from understanding what'll happen. Foreshadowing has to mean something, right?"
The inside of Bill's stomach flutters, warming and comforting.
"You might be the only person who likes it," he admits, handing Mike his new, full glass of wine. Bill watches Mike's lips purse open, drinking deep the white wine, and mentally scolds himself for a flash of a naughty imagining.
God, he would though—Bill would absolutely love to unbutton Mike's shirt right now, push his hands underneath it and feel him, kiss all of his dark brown skin. Every ridge Bill's mouth could taste, every scar and mark. The last time he had a cock in his mouth was his junior year of university, Bill's head jerked violently around while he sucked off his roommate's brother in the toilets. The obvious, noxious stench of urinal invading his senses as the guy's unwashed dick blew his load down Bill's throat.
"I like all of your books, Bill."
Mike's voice surges through the haze, pinpricking his consciousness.
"… You remember the homecoming dance in '91?" Bill blurts out, accepting back the wine glass from his companion. Mike's expression furrows.
"Vaguely," he replies. "Mostly leaving the dance, and parking off on the side of the Kissing Bridge with my uncle's bourbon."
Bill remembers that too, taking swigs and giggling at Mike's stories about his parents. He remembers grasping loosely at Mike's fingers, curling up with him shoulder-to-shoulder in the backseat of his father's car. Mike looked at him then, fascinated and smiling slowly, and Bill's teenage lips covered over his, smiling too, reveling in the heartfelt, silent moment.
"I was so nervous when you kissed me, Bill. I didn't really know what I was doing."
"Me neither." Bill licks over his upper lip, gazing away when Mike sets down the novel. "Y-y-you, um…"
"You want another drink?"
Bill's heart pounds fast. Mike rises to his knees on the chaise, facing him. "Can I kiss you, Bill?" he murmurs.
"You don't h-h-have to ask me."
"I like asking," Mike says knowingly. Wherever the confidence manifested from, Bill likes it. Drinks it in like the wine. The same feeling of youthful love, hope, apprehension—he basks in Mike's closeness, leaning in, tilting his face and breathing Mike in.
Bill's cell vibrates in his pocket, distracting him. Mike's lips vanishing out his airspace.
"No, it wouldn't be Audra," Bill speaks up, half-lying. She has called lately, but only to finalize their divorce papers.
He steps back, placing down his cell to a glass-topped table and reading Black Rapids's director's name to himself. Thank god. Bill slumps with relief, palms on the table supporting him, Bill's head lowering. He faintly hears rustling and Mike's footsteps.
There's nothing, and then Mike's hands slip around Bill, clutching him in. A groan, happy and rumbling, escapes Bill. Mike whispers something in his ear that makes Bill quiver with laughter, need, turning in Mike's embrace and grinning. He cradles his fingers against the side of Mike's face, touching their foreheads and dizzied by the way Mike leans heavily into him.
His friends called him brave. Bill's terrified and excited at the same time, staring into Mike's dark eyes.
He frisk open his trousers, slipping apart Mike's belt and listening to the noticeable hitch in the other man's breathing.
"Hang on," Bill whispers, teasing and smiling and kneeling down. "This is important, Mikey."
"Bill," Mike says again, firm but lacking protest. His fingers trail over the silvered curl to Bill's light hair. Bill responds with a humming, breathy noise, freeing Mike's cock and stroking over the glans with his tongue. It nearly buckles Mike's own knees. He tastes good. Clean. Bill presses his tongue fervently over the length, guiding him in and swallowing.
Mike's fingers gently pull on him, easing Bill to move in a rhythm as he pleases. Warm drool oozes from Bill's mouth. He's starting to handle the sensation of near-choking better when Mike urges him back, tugging Bill onto his feet.
"Upstairs," Mike says hoarsely, his lips grazing Bill's saliva-slick mouth—and christ—yes, Bill follows him, imagining the cool sheets and rutting his own cock against Mike, Bill's fingers squeezing on his ass, laugh-moaning and kissing the daylights out of him until they're unable to satiate themselves further. A writer is only as good as their promise to bring imagination to life.
Blue eyes open, focusing on Mike's gleeful look.
"… … Arizona, huh?"